03 November 2020

No Exit

In no particular order, a few thoughts for an "Election Day" that is both on the wrong day if it's supposed to be a single day (it should be Veteran's Day… and there is increasingly less reason to put Veteran's Day on 11 November anyway) and — especially this year, but for at least two decades — isn't a single day.

First, if you are approached by an "exit pollster" of any kind, remember that this isn't Srbenica or Москва (or Florissant, Missouri in 1981, let alone Arkadelphia, Mississippi in 1957). You don't have to answer. Especially if you've been previously identified as an "undecided" voter, you shouldn't. Instead, the appropriate answer is:

What part of "secret ballot" do you not understand?

The only person(s) who need have any information connecting a particular ballot to a particular voter are election officials. So don't feed the advertising-executive monster. Don't feed politicians'/political operatives' egos (believe me, they don't need any feeding). The results will be the results when they're finalized; when all of the hanging chads have been resolved, even if that results in some "undercounts"; when all of the signatures have been matched (and voters with broken hands, or early-stage Parkinson's, or whatever, whose signatures don't match what was on their driver's license six years ago because they can't hold or move a pen the same way have had an opportunity to satisfy the election officials); when all of the mailed-in ballots have been finally delivered and counted in accordance with the rules established not by partisans but by election professionals.

Second, if you haven't voted yet, do it. Ignore the robocalls; I've gotten two in the last 36 hours reminding me to vote "correctly" (and yes, that's code for "the way the Government's official exit pollsters expect you to," especially given the language they used… and I don't just mean "foul language"). Allow time for mishaps and parking issues and so on; remember, you can still think about your choices while you're standing in line, socially distanced.

Third, and especially if you live in what has been characterized as a swing state (or, within a state, a swing precinct), ignore the electoral "news" for at least twelve hours after the polls close. Once again, don't feed the advertising-executive monster. I recommend a strict doseage of your favorite twentieth-century films, whether that's Dr. Strangelove, or Monty Python and the Holy Grail, or 2001, or Metropolis, or something else entirely. It need only keep your attention off the captured "news" system until there's some chance of predictability. And it will be only a chance for at least a week.

Fourth, realize that there's going to be posturing no matter what the result. I find it far from inconceivable — in fact, I expect — that in the event of a relatively close anticipated Electoral College count at any time after late afternoon Eastern time, Our Dear Leader will declare victory. (How does that work again? And how many casualties were suffered afterward?) Worse yet, I expect that toward mid-January he'll hole up in the White House, declaring that he's the legitimate victor and that the election was stolen from him… essentially requiring use of force to winkle him out, expecting that the opposition will blink and refrain from using force. Perhaps the military won't participate, although if it's too long after noon on 20 January 2021 the new commander in chief might invoke the Insurrection Act with complete legal (if not necessarily ethical) legitimacy. Somehow, though, the thought of pepper spray being pumped in through the air system seems of Procrustean propriety, if not necessarily certainty or effectiveness…

Fifth, remember that all voters are equal. Pundits and ad executives and political operatives and such generally think that some voters are more equal than others. The entire point of our constitutional system — the original document, even, let alone the Fourteenth and Nineteenth Amendments and the Voting Rights Act — is that they're wrong. It's up to the voting public to demand that fair and equal count.